Latifa's daughter, aged four

THE ABANDONED BUILDING THAT HAS TRANSFORMED THE LIVES OF SALFORD FAMILIES

Former women’s hostel, Joan Lestor House, a year on…

Joan Lestor House, on Ellesmere Street, Walkden, had stood empty for almost five years becoming a target for anti-social behaviour and vandalism before we bought the derelict site in 2017.

The house, which was named after the former Labour MP Baroness Lestor for Eccles in 1999, had always had a long standing history of catering for those in need in Salford as it was previously used to house homeless, vulnerable women, until it closed down in 2013 amid funding cuts.

Fast forward to 2020 and the property is back to helping those who need it most after it was transformed into nine contemporary, one and two bedroom apartments for social housing rent.

Among the first residents to move in were Latifa and Jamal Mkali and their two children, aged one and four.

The family had previously been living in a one bedroom flat, high in a tower block and say the extra space has made a huge difference to their lives. We recently visited them to find out how they are getting on in their new home a year on.

Latifa said: “Previously, my family and I were living in a one bedroom flat on the 12th floor of a tower block. Having two young children meant the trip up and down the building with both children and a pram could be quite stressful.

“Being on a lower level has made our trips in and out so much easier. Plus, having the extra bedroom has given us some much-needed space for storage and for the children to enjoy.

“It’s been nice to see my children make new friends and to see them play together in the outside space.

“We’re so happy at Joan Lestor House and look forward to the years ahead living here.”

"PREVIOUSLY, MY FAMILY AND I WERE LIVING IN A ONE-BEDROOM FLAT ON THE 12TH FLOOR OF A TOWER BLOCK. HAVING TWO YOUNG CHILDREN MEANT THE TRIP UP AND DOWN THE BUILDING WITH BOTH CHILDREN AND A PRAM COULD BE QUITE STRESSFUL."
Latifa Mkali

Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett attended its official opening to cut the ribbon alongside our chief executive Lee Sugden and the new residents in October last year.

Mayor Dennett said: “Social housing is hugely under supplied in the modern British housing market and is a vital service both in maintaining standards in rented accommodation, whilst providing a roof over people’s heads that they can afford.”

We worked alongside our partner contractor Emanuel Whittaker to carry out the ambitious £800,000 refurbishment and remodelling scheme, which was partially funded thanks to a £234,000 grant from Homes England Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme.

Lee Sugden, our chief executive, added: “With the lack of social housing being a prominent issue across the whole of the UK, we’re very proud to officially open our fantastic new social housing development, which is providing new homes for people in housing need, like Latifa and her family.

“With 6,000 people on the housing register in Salford alone, not only have we provided a roof over the head of those that need it most, but we’ve also given a new lease of life to this once-abandoned building, which had become a real blight in the community.

“We are passionate about delivering more social housing in Salford to help tackle the housing crisis, so the official opening of Joan Lestor House marks a very proud moment for us and we hope the residents will be very happy in their new homes.”

Watch our transformation here…